House votes against Rep. Rohrabacher’s ideas for easing airplane noise in O.C.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher points to a commercial aircraft that could be heard leaving nearby John Wayne Airport during a news conference Monday outside his Costa Mesa home.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher points to a commercial aircraft that could be heard leaving nearby John Wayne Airport during a news conference Monday outside his Costa Mesa home.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The House of Representatives voted against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s four proposed amendments to the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual reauthorization bill that he said would have eased aircraft noise in Orange County.

House members voted 375-37 on Thursday in Washington against Rohrabacher’s noise amendments that would have required airplanes to fly at the highest safe altitude possible within 20 minutes of approaching an airport and fly farther out over the ocean after takeoff before turning inland. Rohrabacher also called on the FAA to prioritize community concerns when implementing flight path alterations.

Rohrabacher — a Costa Mesa Republican whose 48th Congressional District includes Huntington Beach and parts of Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach — shared his disappointment with the vote on his Facebook page Friday morning, saying he had collaborated with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the FAA on language to help push the proposal forward.

“But the House chose the efficiency of airplanes over your quality of life,” Rohrabacher wrote. “The FAA bill’s priorities are all wrong and totally neglected the problem of increased noise. As such, I voted against the bill and plan to continue fighting to fix this problem for the people of Orange County.”

Huntington Beach residents have increasingly complained about airline noise in the past year, since the FAA implemented new flight patterns in its Southern California Metroplex project covering the region’s airports, including Long Beach and John Wayne. The agency said the changes would shore up inefficiencies, save fuel and reduce carbon emissions and flight delays.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer did not comment Friday, though administration officials have said more than two dozen air routes have historically passed over Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach residents have increasingly complained in the past year about airplane noise linked to Long Beach Airport, shown here. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has asked JetBlue to retrofit its Airbus A320 planes to help minimize noise on their approach to Long Beach.
(File Photo / Los Angeles Times )

On Monday, Rohrabacher explained during a news conference outside his Costa Mesa home how his four proposed amendments would help mitigate airplane noise in Orange County. He also proposed a fifth amendment calling on airlines to maintain a high level of cleanliness on their planes.

The noise, Rohrabacher contended, has increased in recent years. Throughout his speech, several planes could be heard leaving nearby John Wayne Airport, drowning out his words.

Rohrabacher also discussed his April 10 letter to JetBlue President and Chief Executive Robin Hayes asking the company to retrofit the engines on its Airbus A320 planes with vortex generators, known as air deflectors, which he said would cut noise levels substantially.

JetBlue spokesman Philip Stewart said last week that the airline was reviewing the letter. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey this month asked county and federal representatives to address aviation noise related to the FAA’s regional air traffic system, describing Huntington as an “epicenter” for “heavily concentrated new landing and flyover patterns.”

Residents in other cities also are unhappy with the new flight patterns. Newport Beach and Laguna Beach sued the FAA over the system in 2016, saying the project’s environmental review, which determined there would be no significant effects, was inadequate.

Twitter: @vegapriscella